9/26/08

My go-to meal

I think everyone has at least one go-to meal. When the day is busy, you are stressed, it is cold out, you just trained hard or you are about to watch a movie, here is always something that you can rely on to keep your tummy happy and it is also quick and easy to prepare.
And no, cereal doesn't count.
The meal should take at least 5 minutes to make :)

I love cooked veggies. Not the kind that are loaded in oil and/or butter from a restaurant but veggies that are cooked by me in my house. I have a few staple veggies in my diet and in no particular order; mushrooms (I only like them cooked), onions, corn, peppers, chickpeas, romaine lettuce and tomatoes. I enjoy almost all veggies, but those veggies are always in my refrigerator. *Tip: cook veggies in a little bit of olive rather than always using just spray pam. The fat from the olive oil will help absorb the water-soluble vitamins in the veggies (fat soluble vitamins include A,D,E and K. All other vitamins are water-soluble) to give you more nutrients. Also, heating certain veggies (ex. tomatoes, even though it is really a fruit) will release more nutrients than not cooking the veggies.

As far as my go-to meal, I love cooking veggies for dinner. But unless I "spice" it up somehow, a plain bowl of veggies is something that I can easily get bored with. Also, Karel would not be a fan of cooked veggies every night for dinner. My go-to meal is not only simple but it is healthy and yummy.
If you have trouble including veggies in your diet, I find that if you can include one or two foods that you really enjoy you won't dread preparing and eating a healthy meal. Ex. If you don't really like broccoli (like me), make an omelet and add lean/veggie meat and then add in the steamed broccoli. This way, it won't seem like you are a eating a serving or two of broccoli because you look forward to the other foods.

There are three reasons why I call this meal my go-to meal:
1) I can go to this meal because it is easy and quick to prepare. Including chopping (which is my favorite part), this meal maybe takes 15 min. max to make.
2) I can go to my pantry, fridge and freezer and find every veggie I need to make this meal.
3) If I need to go to the store, I know exactly what veggies I want to cook with and I know I will enjoy eating them.

Ingredients:
Chickpeas (canned-rinse before using due to high sodium content in canned foods)
Onion
Green Pepper
Mushrooms
Veggie sausage (you can use lean meat)
3 egg whites, 1 whole egg and a little skim milk
Marinara sauce
Salsa
Hot sauce
Seasonings: Pepper, paprika
Optional: Wrap

The first thing I do is cook my veggies.


I spray my pan with olive oil spray pam and let the pan heat up. While it is heating to medium heat, I chop my veggies (onions and green peppers) and veggie sausage. If you have frozen food (ex. corn, green peppers, etc.) you will want to cook anything frozen first.
I added about 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the pan before adding my mushrooms, onions and green peppers. You can't go wrong with preparing too many veggies so don't be afraid to cut 1/2 onion or a whole pepper. The more the better with veggies and leftovers are great!
After letting the veggies brown a bit and soak up the healthy oil I added my rinsed chickpeas (about 1/2 can). I love chickpeas because they are high in fiber and protein. A lot of people don't know that chickpeas are the base of hummus and you can't go wrong with hummus!


After all my veggies were cooked I sprayed a little more pam and poured in my egg mixture. My egg mixture consisted of 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg, mixed with a little skim milk and a dash of hot sauce. I mixed that all with a fork and then poured it into my veggie-filled pan.




I scrambled the mixture until the eggs were fully cooked. At this point, you can also make an omelet by removing the veggies and then cooking the eggs before adding the veggies back into the pan.

Once everything was cooked, I added a few spoonfuls of the marinara sauce and salsa.





Both salsa and marina sauce are staples in our house and as you can see, we need to buy more!



I love these low-carb wraps.
I buy mine at Wal-mart but they are found at various grocery stores. They are not only low in calories (90-100 calories for the whole wrap!) but they are high in protein and fiber and come in different types of wraps (tomato, italian and whole wheat).


After I stirred together the veggie and egg mixture with the sauces, I topped it with a little cheese and I was ready to eat my go-to meal! I served my veggies with 1/2 wrap and roasted pepper hummus.





Here are some options to make my go-to meal a lot less boring...
1) Serve w/ a wrap (or 1/2 wrap) and hummus (as I did last night)
2) Serve with a piece of toast (you could spread a little marinara sauce on the bread/wrap and with a little Parmesan or mozzarella cheese you almost have a pizza!)
3) You can eat the veggie and egg mixture just like I prepared but top with some fresh mozzarella chunks.
4) You can serve the veggie mixture with a bowl of spinach or romaine lettuce.
5) You can serve the mixture with any meat or fish.
6) You can add any type of veggies that you like.
7) Take your favorite type of cuisine (ex. Mexican, Italian, vegetarian) and add rice, noodles and/or tofu (respectively).

It's really important that you find a way to incorporate healthy food into your diet by enjoying what you eat and taking pride in how it is prepared. :)

9/23/08

TCBH? BROWNIES!

This will be my new tag line for the healthy meals that I make...

THAT CAN'T BE HEALTHY?????

For Karel's b-day I decided to make him something besides a cake. This came out so good and you won't believe it until you taste it. I'm sure I could play with the recipe a bit and mix in some more goodies or hide some more nutrients in there.... but this one will really make your tummy happy.

This is another great desert to make with your kids and because it is a lot healthier than a boxed brownie mix or homemade brownies, this would also be a great treat to bring to parties, functions or events when you are always worried that there are going to be too many unhealthy foods for you to stick to your healthy eating habits. My advice: when going to events where there is a good chance there will be unhealthy foods, be sure to bring something healthy. This will be your go-to-dish to make the bulk of your plate. Then you can eat a little of everything so that you can stay within your calorie guidelines without feeling guilty that you are eating foods which you normally wouldn't eat.

BROWNIE RECIPE

2 cups crushed graham crackers (I used cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup skim milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup instant oatmeal (not cooked)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

1. Crush the graham crackers.
*this was the fun part. At first I used a wooden spoon but decided it would be more fun to just crumble the crackers with my hands. So long as the kiddos wash their hands, this would be the fun part for kids. Also, it is a good stress-reliever to play with food :)
2. Combine cinnamon with graham crackers in a mixing bowl.
3. Stir in the milk and add vanilla. At this point, the graham crackers take the place of flour.
*There is NO flour in this recipe!!!
4. Combine chocolate chips, oatmeal, walnuts and raisins in a small bowl and add to the large mixing bowl.
5. Stir in the chips, walnuts and raisins.
*You can melt chocolate before combing with walnut and raisins. Since I am not much of a chocolate fan I decided the chocolate taste would not be so overwhelming if there were only pieces of chocolate chips in the brownies rather than being melted in. You can also use different nuts if you choose.
6. Pour into a non-stick 13 x 9 baking pan (I first sprayed it with spray Pam) and level mixture with a spatula or spoon.
7. Cook for 350-degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Check mixture at 10 minutes to estimate your finishing time. You will smell it when it is ready.

ENJOY!!!

9/22/08

Happy Birthday Karel!!!!

According to Karel, he is an old man. Turning 32 is hardly old and I know he doesn't feel 32. Plus, with a 26 year old fiance I hope I have kept him young. If anything, I know I have kept him healthy and kept his tummy happy :)

If you know Karel, it is easy to see why I have been so happy for the past 2 years and 4 months. And if you haven't met Karel, it is easy for me to talk about all his great qualities. If I have to think of a bad quality I would ponder for days just to even make-up one bad quality.

Karel has been a blessing in my life since the day we met. Although I was not ready for a relationship at that time in my life, there was something about Karel that I knew I couldn't get enough of. The more I told myself I wasn't ready for a serious relationship, the more I found myself falling in love with Karel.

Karel is one of the most helpful, thoughtful, caring, generous, funny, encouraging and supportive people I have ever met in my life. Lucky for me, I get to spend everyday with him. I have been told my many of my guy friends, they also wish they had a Karel in their lives. I do share him but he must come back to me at night.

Among his many great personal qualities, he is also an amazing athlete who is extremely passionate about cycling. According to me, if Karel had a philosophy for life, I believe he would say "never give up". Clearly, Karel is someone who never gives up when times get tough and regardless if it is a cycling race or something stressful in his life, Karel fights all odds and seems to always come out with an optimistic attitude.

Not only does Karel love cycling (and me) but he loves taking care of our 55 gallon and 20 gallon fish tanks. After my dad gave Karel a 10-gallon tank, Karel turned a tank with a few fish into a hobbie. And without a doubt, Karel is perfectionist with our fish tanks just like he is with bikes and anything else he does in life.
Karel also loves his cat (smudla) who I believe is really MY cat :) Probably because I feed her everyday but I have clearly adopted Smudla.
Karel is also very close to his family, just like myself, and we both can't wait to have little athletes and start a family of our own. Hopefully we can be great parents just like our parents.

Karel has always supported me in all my adventures and when life gets tough for me he has a way to cheer me up and turn everything around. I am not one who deals with stress very well but to have Karel make me laugh when I am sad just makes me feel much better, no matter what I am stressing about.

I don't feel like I need Karel to live life my life but I can't imagine my life without him. Karel has a lifestyle that is similar to my own and because of that I am so happy. Karel has made me a better person and he gives me strength for all my weakness's. If it wasn't for him, I would have a lot of broken appliances and of course, a bike that I wouldn't know what to do with. I have also found myself doing things that are scary or out of my element and because of Karel believing in me, I gain so much confidence from him.

This is also a special day for me as well because it is our 1 year engagement anniversary. Not sure if we will always celebrate these little milestones but I couldn't ask for a better person to come into my life, brake down my routine and show me that is ok to love someone and to not be afraid to just be myself.

Happy Birthday KAREL!!!!








9/21/08

Do they really know you???

Or do they just know the way you are???

On Friday morning, Karel and I headed to New Port Richey to stay with my parents. I was so excited to be back home and spend some time with them. We brought Smudla and although she hated the trip down there (MEOOOOWWWWW's the WHOLE 3 1/2 hour drive!) she is just loving the screened in pool/patio and being able to roam around the house. So long as she doesn't accidentally bump into my parents two cats.
Karel had two races this weekend. Yesterday was in Pinellas Park and today is in San Antonio. Yesterday was an exciting day for me because I had my bridal shower! Getting married is so much fun! I enjoyed being around my friends, mom and bridesmaids and it was just a nice afternoon of yummy food and LOTS of gifts :)

When thinking about my bridal shower and leaving it up to my maid of honor, mom and a few other girls, I tried really hard not to step in. Of course, my personality wants to do everything, even plan my own bridal shower, but I was strong and I just sat back and let everyone plan a wonderful shower at my mom's house.
In the midst of planning this shower, I started thinking about the food and what we would have at the lunch table. Without my input, I was in good hands with lots of people who knew me well. We had a lot of different foods but the main dishes were veggie pizza, fruit, veggies and dip, wedges of spinach and cream cheese stuffed in a pita, pretzels and salsa, deviled eggs, Triscuits and cheese and my croissants w/ low-sugar jelly inside. As for the desert, no rich cake w/ icing. Instead, they bought an Angel food cake and they loaded it with fresh strawberries and we served it with slow churn strawberry ice cream on the side.
It was funny that we didn't have a table of deserts, a bunch of fried or sugary foods or any really unhealthy dishes. Actually, we didn't even have any meat now that I think about it. It is just great that people know me so well that having "unhealthy" food at my bridal shower would just not be representative of me. But then again, no one really complained about the food choices and isn't everyone on a quest to eat healthy anyways?

In part of my title for this post I wanted to express how important it is that your friends, family and significant others really know you. Knowing your likes, dislikes and dietary preferences is one thing but what about knowing why you eat a certain way. Furthermore, why not express to people why you train the way you do instead of just telling someone "I have a 4 hour ride and 40 min brick run on sat".

It is really important that you talk to your significant other, friends, co-workers, family, and anyone else that is part of your life, and without being defensive, talk about your choices for food and discuss the importance of training long hours on the weekend (if you are training for a long distance race or you just enjoy endurance sports). I find that so many relationships (friendships, marriages, dating relationships) fail because there is little communication about the lifestyle of multisport athletes. Even if the healthy addiction started well-into the relationship/marriage, it is important to talk about this choice to really change your entire lifestyle. People are pursuing a healthier lifestyle and because of lack of communication, I know that there are people out there that just don't understand what we do, why we do it and why we love what we do.

After talking to the ladies at my bridal shower and hearing their tips for a successful marriage, communication is key. Words of advice also included laughing, listening and lots of love. I think the advice that I will really take away is that every relationship is unique and it is important to always stay best friends.

I made this post short on purpose so that everyone out there can think about ways to improve their relationship (if needed) in a way that works for the two of you. I don't believe that people should struggle with their weight loss goals because the other person in the house is bringing in sabotaging foods to the house. I don't believe that a person training for a race should feel guilty about going out for a long workout if the other person in the relationship can't understand why it is important to train the body for an IM distance race. However, I do believe that training schedules can and SHOULD change so that there is compromise in a relationship and that the world is not over if a training session is cut short, missed or altered in order to spend time with the family, the other person or to attend a family function. It's just training and believe me, the body will appreciate it more if you are consistent with quality training rather than getting obsessed with every little detail of training and that more is not always better.

If you are around people that question what you do, take time to explain to people why you eat a certain way, why you need to sleep a little more to recover from a workout and why you train the way you do. If that person continues to give you a hard time about your diet and training schedule, re-evaluate if that person is giving you energy (as a good friendship/relationship should) or taking your energy. I know Karel and I will have a successful relationship just like many others out there and I really enjoy hearing from people about how they make their relationship work. Everyone relationship is different and lifestyles are different.
From a nutrition point of view, I really think it is worth the time to make lifestyle changes for yourself, for your family and with your significant others so that you don't feel like you have to live your exciting and healthy life all alone.
I've been saying this since day one, when I met Karel in May 2006...
People don't have to have the same passions but it is important that two people in a relationship have similar lifestyles.